Distinctly British shows sometimes don’t translate to other audiences, but here are some British murder mystery series that deserve a watch.
Nowadays, streaming services like Netflix and Hulu make it easier than ever to watch television shows produced in other countries. Whether you are looking into documentaries, dramas, or comedies, shows from across the pond are immediately available to the large pool of people subscribed to these services.
The British murder mystery genre is one of the more popular choices when it comes to prime television, and thankfully there are a lot to choose from. With the likes of Sherlock and C. Auguste Dupin hailing from this region, it stands to reason that the English would be able to conceptualize some killer tv shows. Check out these 10 British murder mysteries that you need to watch.
Updated April 20th, 2020 by Mariana Fernandes: It’s hard to get enough of British charm brought into television. And when that charm finds itself transported into the world of murder mysteries, things get exponentially more interesting. Studios were quick to pick up on audiences’ love for the genre, and the result is a myriad of thrilling and exciting television shows that have their own take on the matter. If you’ve been through the original list over and over again, keep reading to find out even more British murder mysteries to add to your watchlist!
Agatha Christie remains to this day the best-selling novelist of all time, all thanks to her unique approach to writing characters and mysteries that even the shrewdest among us can’t quite comprehend at first. And her most famous character is none other than Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective known for using his little grey cells.
Many actors took on the role of Poirot, but none better than David Suchet in this television series that adapted every Christie novel featuring the detective. With 70 episodes to go through, fans of the genre will revel in this show.
Hercule Poirot might have been the most famous character created by Agatha Christie, but it wasn’t the only one, nor the only interesting and captivating detective. Miss Marple also stars in Christie’s novels as a shrewd old lady that frequently finds herself involved in murder mysteries.
The show Marple features two actresses taking on the role, and both bring their own charm and uniqueness to the character. Plus, the cases Miss Marple is featured in are some of the most interesting and intricate in the history of British television.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
One who is in love with British murder mysteries simply can’t live a life without watching at least a few episodes of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. While younger audiences might have had their first encounter with the famous detective in Sherlock, also featured on this list, this 1980s adaptation shouldn’t be skipped.
It places Holmes and Dr. Watson in the time period they were created in by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and follows the famous duo for 13 episodes of pure, hard, English mystery. A must-watch!
One of the longest-running shows of the genre is Inspector Morse, that first began airing back in 1987 and didn’t stop until 2000, over a decade later. Indeed, John Thaw’s Inspector Morse has become one of the most recognized faces in English television due to his curious take on the character.
Charming, suspenseful, and utterly British, this twelve-season long series is as binge-worthy as it is interesting. Even those who aren’t very keen on murder mysteries will find something to love about Inspector Morse.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
The character of Miss Fisher might not be as immediately recognizable as Hercule Poirot, or even as well-known as Sherlock Holmes. She is, however, one of the most interesting and well-crafted female detective characters to ever be featured on a television series.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries takes place in the 1920s and follows Miss Fisher herself as she makes her way through life fighting for what is just and good, taking bad guys down along the way. Even though it only lasted three seasons and ended back in 2015, fans seemed to appreciate the character enough to justify the 2020 feature film Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears.
This shows street crew speaks for itself. With a minimum an 8 out of 10 rating across the board and a staggering 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes, Ripper Street is a must-see for mystery aficionados. The story is set in 1889 in the aftermath of Jack the Ripper’s killing spree.
In such daunting times, it seems impossible to establish a sense of law and order in this area of East London. The story’s prime protagonist is real-life Detective Inspector Edmund Reid, who was at the helm of H Division in Whitechapel following the Ripper’s excessive murders.
Death In Paradise
In 2011, Scotland Yard’s DI Richard Poole (Ben Miller) started investigating a series of murder on the Caribbean island of Sainte Marie. He hates anything sand, sea, and tropical, which serves as an easy comedic backdrop for this murder mystery series.
Poole was killed in the third series, only to be placed with his murder-investigating detective, Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall). Goodman also left the show and was replaced yet again in the sixth series by DI Jack Mooney (Ardal O’Hanlon) who has taken the mantle of the series ever since.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s most notorious role, apart from Doctor Strange, came from his lead appearance on the show Sherlock. It’s the same old murder mystery that has always followed the fictitious Sherlock Holmes, except this time his crime-solving skills are used in modern times.
The show ran from 2010 to 2017 and won numerous awards and nominations during its time. Cumberbatch is joined by other A-list actors including Martin Freeman who plays his right-hand man, Doctor John Watson.
Another Marvel alumni, Stellan Skarsgård heads the tale in the British television series River. It originally appeared as a one time series on BBCOne in October and was released to Netflix in November 2015. Instead of playing a renown chemist as he does in Thor, Skarsgård impersonates the character of Detective Inspector John River.
River is haunted by a series of murder victims which calls into question his sanity despite the fact that he is an accomplished investigator. The show touches on crime, drama, but most of all, personal tragedies that play into the emotions and fears of the audience.
Midsomer Murders was a popular British murder mystery that originally aired in the late 1990s. The story takes place in the modern fictitious county of Midsomer where Chief Detective Tom Barnaby and his young disciple work tirelessly to solve the local murders. Actor John Nettles took the lead role of DI Barnaby before he retired in 2011.
To keep the show going, Barnaby’s cousin John Barnaby (played by Neil Dudgeon) took over the leading role as Midsomer County’s DCI. The show has seen continuous success even with this change, and the show aired its 20th season in 2019.
Police sergeant Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) takes her role seriously as she patrols the streets of West Yorkshire. In the first season, Catherine is trying to pick up the pieces of her life after the suicide of her daughter and divorce from her husband. Her young daughter left behind a son, Ryan, who is the result of a rape.
Catherine lives with her addict sister and has become obsessed with hunting down the recently released prisoner, Tommy Lee Royce, who raped her daughter. All seems grim until Kevin Weatherill comes in to report a crime, which is unexpectedly tied to Royce.
DCI Vera Stanhope and her team investigators work to solve a bevy of murders across the Northumberland landscape in Vera. The 2011 murder mystery drama relies heavily on Vera’s wit and peevish charm to balance the merciless plot lines of the unrelenting murderers in her jurisdiction.
She has a take-no-prisoners attitude and is exceptionally clever, making actress Brenda Blethyn’s character all the more fascinating. This ongoing series is available for obscure fanatics to stream on Hulu.
This serial crime drama ran for three seasons until 2017. In the English town of Dorset, DI’s Alec Hardy and DS Ellie Miller work together to solve one murder at a time. The ensemble cast is comprised of Doctor Who’s David Tennant and Olivia Colman as the two principal characters, with other cast appearances made by Jodie Whittaker and Arthur Darvill.
The first season follows the trail of a list of suspects for the murder of 11-year-old which caused a massive panic and media coverage in the local town. However, when the trail leads to the boy’s family as the prime suspects, DI Hardy and Miller have to act quickly to catch the culprit.
Played by the legendary actor Idris Elba, John Luther is a genius detective at the Serious Crime Unit in the United Kingdom. Luther’s brilliance sometimes leads him to think on par with the criminals that he is investigating, which often plays into his own violent tendencies. Luther’s character is critically obsessive so that his job as a murder detective takes precedence over everything else in his life, including personal relationships.
The show had incredible success after its first run in 2010, with almost 6 million people switching to Luther for every episode. The series is currently on its fifth season with no signs of slowing down with almost 10 million UK viewers tuning into the latest episodes.
London detectives dig into the cold case files in this British murder mystery. Unforgotten is a three-series tv spot starring Nicola Walker as DCI Cassie Stuart and Sanjeev Bhaskar as DI Sunny Khan.
The two specialize in murder and disappearance cases that have been long forgotten by the public but are actively solved with their unabashed charisma and determination.